20 March 2017

Malawi: Karonga Chiefs Revolt Against Kyungu Over Relocation of Refugees Camp

Over hundreds of traditional leaders in Karonga have attacked Paramount Chief Kyungu for imposing the relocation of a refugee camp from Dzaleka in Dowa to Katili in Traditional Authority (T/A) Kyungu in Karonga.

The chiefs, who include almost all village headmen in the district, also rubbished Kyungu's claim that he consulted them over the matter.

They have penned the Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security and vowed to work with the Karonga-Chitipa Heritage which is against the development.

National coordinator for Karonga-Chitipa Heritage Alfred Mwahimba disclosed that they have agreed with the chiefs to take a court injunction if government continue with the project.

"With the chiefs, we wonder why Kyungu and government want to force us to allow the project," said Mwambira.

Mwahimba said Member of Parliament for the area Frank Tumpale Mwenefumbo said he will use any constitutional means to block the project.

He accused Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Grace Chiumia and Kyungu for deceiving President Peter Mutharika that people in the district are welcoming the refugees camp.

"I know President Mutharika is a well qualified and experienced international lawyer. He can't impose things to his subjects," said Mwenefumbo.

According to him, forcing people of Karonga to accept the camp will damage the image of President Mutharika towards the northerners.

"Karonga residents are also Malawians and they are mandated to receive development from government without any condition," he disclosed.

Senior Chief Wasambo also rubbished the decision of relocating the camp, saying they can take the refugees anywhere else but not Karonga.

However, Kyungu has maintained his position that the camp must come to the district.

Government want to start the project next month and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representative Monique Ekoko said 27 000 refugees will be transferred from Dzaleka to Katili.

According to Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Grace Chiumia, the decision to relocate the refugee camp follows a concern by government that the camp at Dzaleka was near Lilongwe, the capital city, a development that compromises the country's security.

"Malawi is one of a few countries in Africa that has a refugee camp close to the capital city, a development that raised fear on the security of the nation. Government decided to relocate the camp to a border district where most of the refugees pass through," she said.

Chiumia assured the people of Karonga that the process is beneficial because water points and school blocks will be constructed and Katili Health Centre rehabilitated.

Katili lies north west of Karonga, about 15 kilometres away from the boma.

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